If you’re relatively new to pocket squares, the worst thing you can do is go overboard with them. I see it all the time. It’s a very fine line between looking sharp and tacky. Classy and subtle wins out over loud and flamboyant every time. So please don’t complicate your pocket squares any more than necessary.
Before we get into the pocket squares you should own, let me answer some of the common questions I get asked about pocket squares.
When to wear pocket squares
Anytime you’re wearing a jacket, either with a full suit or a blazer or sport coat. You can also wear them with unlined/unstructured blazers like I discussed in my Summer Essentials ebook. But, never, and I mean never, should you wear a pocket square with an overcoat or top coat.
Do I always need to wear one with all my suits and blazers?
No, but I’d suggest wearing one more often than not. To me, the more casual the outfit, the less necessary one becomes. But even then, the quickest way to add a little extra polish to an outfit is with a pocket square.
How Do I Match My Pocket Square to my outfit?
First off – if you’re matching your pocket square to your tie exactly – stop immediately.
It’s a rookie mistake I see a lot of guys making and it looks bad 100% of the time. I just think of all those silk tie and pocket square sets in prom photos… shudder.
Matching your pocket square to your outfit is pretty straight forward.
The safest thing you can do, which looks great 100% of the time, is to match your pocket square to your shirt. You will NEVER go wrong there – as long as you’re not wearing some obnoxious dress shirt color like red or orange. Even then, it wouldn’t look… horrible. So do that if you’re going tie-less or wearing a black tie.
Solid tie that isn’t black
Make sure your pocket square is a similar color (not exact) to the color of your tie. Or, if you’re using a white pocket square with colored tipping, make sure the tipping is a similar shade of the same color.
Find a color in the tie and have your pocket square, either the tipping, pattern, or solid color of your pocket square have a similar color in it. It doesn’t need to match perfectly, but it should have a similar shade of the color as your tie. So if you’re wearing a blue tie, have a blue shade in your pocket square.
Match your pocket square to your dress shirt. It doesn’t need to be perfectly matching, just a similar shade of the same color. That will keep a nice contrast between the items you’re wearing.
Again, match your pocket square to your shirt color.
So if you’re wearing a blue suit and white dress shirt, then you can wear a white pocket square.
What Material Should My Pocket Squares Be?
This one is simple: cotton.
Cotton works in 100% of situations, no matter the outfit, color, etc. and goes perfectly with your essential silk ties. So don’t waste your time or complicate things further by even considering other materials.
I occasionally use wool or linen pockets squares with clients or on shoots, but they have very specific use cases and cotton pocket squares would still work in all of these situations, so stick with cotton and you’ll be just fine. For silk pocket squares, I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve used them over the course of my career.
What Colors and Patterns Should My Pocket Square be?
I’ll always default to classic and timeless colors and patterns so stick with these and they’ll go with any suit or jacket you’ll own:
- Plain white (if you have 1 color, this is the color)
- White with gray or navy tipping
- Navy or gray gingham patterns
Any other types of patterns or colors and you’re venturing into territory that’s outside the scope of this series and where things can go wrong very quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing – and trust me, most guys don’t know what they’re doing in this department, even the so-called “experts”.
I’ll do a whole other video or series about patterns and materials later on, but that’s next level stuff and is not appropriate for the Essential Accessories Series since these are the items that need to work with my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials and also need to work for every guy, regardless of his age or body type.
How to fold a pocket square
Check out my article and video about the 3 best ways to fold a pocket square.
Best Pocket Squares
Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with any pocket squares, as long as they’re cotton and you’ve stuck to plain white, white with colored tipping and navy or gray gingham patterns. So if you have a preferred place to get your pocket squares go ahead and use them.
I get hit up by a gazillion tie and pocket square companies all day long, but for all my pocket square needs – and they’re not paying me to say this – I use TheTieBar.com.
I’ve been a customer of theirs since they were a little company, who didn’t know who I was or what I did for a living and and they’ve continued to impress me each and every time I order from them. Suffice it to say, they’re amazing. And trust me, I use them A LOT.
The Tie Bar Solid White Cotton Pocket Square
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Midnight Navy Border
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Dark Charcoal Border
The Tie Bar Novel Gingham Navy Pocket Square
The Tie Bar Metric Plaid Charcoal Pocket Square
Pocket Squares Outfit Inspiration
The king of all pocket square inspiration photos is my friend Rainier over at TheDressedChest.com, my images below pale in comparison to his, so go check him out, as well.